Missouri reinstates QB

Quarterback Corbin Berkstresser has been reinstated to the Missouri team, the Kansas City Star has reported.

Berkstresser was arrested in mid-May for leaving the scene of an accident after driving into a parked Oldsmobile and leaving. He was suspended from the team, but reinstated after the Columbia police downgraded the charge to a misdemeanour.

Berkstresser is the Tigers’ back-up quarterback, and will be taking reps with current QB James Franklin currently recovering from shoulder surgery. Without him, the Star said, Missouri would have been struggling with quarterbacks, and have had to go to Ashton Glazer

On this, the Star said: “Without him, Mizzou would have been down to its third-string signal caller in Ashton Glazer”. Berkstresser jumped over Glazer in the battle for the back-up spot.

Yet Another bowl game? SEC adds new bowl to list

The SEC has added a new bowl to its list – and this time it’s not a deal with the Pac-10 or Big Ten…or even Big XII.

Anyway, the SEC – according to a tweet from CBS writer Brett McMurphy – has signed a deal that will see the SEC add the Independence Bowl to its growing list of bowls – with the much-maligned ACC as its partner.

The deal – the SEC’s 10th bowl in all – will be for 2012 and 2013, and will see the SEC’s No. 10 play the ACC’s No.7 team.

The great news for SEC fans is that the Bowl’s in Shreveport, Louisiana, meaning that it’ll be close enough for most SEC schools to get to.

The last time a SEC school went to the Independence Bowl was Georgia, who savaged Texas A&M (then a Big XII school, for those who can’t remember that far back!) 44-20 in 2009. In 2011, Missouri went to the Independence Bowl as a Big XII fan – where they annihilated North Carolina 41-24, while in 2010, Air Force beat Georgia Tech 14-7 in a much more defensively-orientated affair.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Another bowl for the SEC just shows the power of the conference and how in-demand it is getting. This is also good news for the ACC, who have been having problems in the PR department lately with the mooted leaving of Florida State and Clemson. 


Breaking news: Mizzou QB arrest charges downgraded

Police investigating the arrest of Missouri back-up quarterback Corbin Berkstresser  have decided to charge the player with a misdemeanor not a felony after being arrested for leaving the scene of an accident in mid-May, Dave Matter of Mizzou’s Columbia Daily Tribune has reported.

Berkstresser was suspended from the team – already suffering from the absence of QB James Franklin, who is recovering from shoulder surgery – after his arrest on May 12th because of the charges hanging over him after he smashed his car into another – parked – one in Columbia.

Matter tweeted: “With the misdemeanor charge, Berkstresser should be able to apply for reinstatement w/ #Mizzou football team to end suspension.” 

He added: “This happened in May; what’s new is the charge and that it’s not a felony.”

THE BOTTOM LINE: Missouri coach Gary Pinkel told reporters at the SEC Spring Meeting that he expects Franklin to be OK for the start of the season, but this news should at least give the Tigers some depth back at the position. Pinkel has not been exempt from the police’s handcuffs after being arrested for a DUI last season, which prematurely ended his season with the team.


Auburn picks up new commitment

Just because the Spring Meetings have finished, doesn’t mean recruitment ends.

Auburn University has picked up the commitment of cornerback Jahmere Irvin-Sills from Maryland. He’s been ranked three-star by Rivals, and had a bunch of interest all along the Eastern seaboard.

The recruitment was somewhat of a blow to West Virginia, who had been  interested in Irvin-Sills for a while.

Offering Irvin-Sills – on top of Auburn – were (in no particular order) – Ole Miss, West Virginia, NC State, Boston College, Connecticut, Hawaii, Houston, Maryland, Rutgers, Southern Miss and Temple. Penn State was also said to be interested, but no offer was forthcoming.

Safety coach Tommy Thigpen did the recruiting.


SEC Spring Meetings: Winners/Losers

The SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Fl. weren’t low on discussion.

To make it a quick read (and to not try and tread on too much old ground, The SEC Football Blog brings you a (not completely complete) list of winners and losers from the three days of meetings. If you have any more, please comment!


The supporters of tradition: The SEC voted for the 6-1-1 schedule to stick around for the next half a decade, meaning that the century-old Auburn-Georgia and Alabama – Tennessee rivalries stay intact. And so does the LSU vs Florida game, which has been going for a mere 41 years, which is just a smidgeon shorter than how old Les Miles is (and yes, we’re being kind).

Lovers of a 4-game play-off: The SEC voted for a four-team play-off. God only knows what it’s going to look like, though.

Steve Spurrier (press conference): You might not like Steve Spurrier, but his press conference on the Tuesday was fantastic. In about 20 minutes, he managed to butcher Florida State (aren’t they No.1 every year), quickly work out an idea for a play-off, not seem too upset about losing Arkansas as a permanent opponent (the Gamecocks will get Texas A&M instead), but got upset about not paying players as well as the idea that non-conference games counted towards end-of-season divisional records.  And numbers-wise, he beat Coach Cal of UK 20-1 on journalist attendance (although we can guarantee that one Kentucky journalist probably didn’t complain too much about having an exclusive interview, as we wouldn’t!).

The SEC presidents and ADs: The current 12 schools – Texas A&M and Mizzou haven’t formally been voted in yet, we hasten to add, are pocketing a tidy $20.1 million from the SEC – a total of $241.1 million. We could use the change, boys! Oh, and can you imagine the green they’ll get from the SEC Network?

The SEC Coaches: For making a stand and voting unanimously FOR paying players. No, it probably won’t mean too much. But you know what? It might get a ball rolling. And Spurrier led the charge on this – although some members of the media felt that it was simply Spurrier trying to get media attention.

Mark Richt: While others were losing their cool about the 6-1-1, he was straight down the line with his message: UGA wants to keep the Auburn rivalry.

Dan Mullen: Came up with a very common-sense idea of having a ‘Final Four’ for college football. The Texas Stadium in Arlington wouldn’t be big enough for all the people who’d want to go to THAT week of games, would it? He also got that permanent rivalry with Kentucky, which can only be good for the Bulldogs win column.

Concussion-worriers: Dan Jones, the Chancellor of Ole Miss, is going to head up a committee to look into concussions, which should be interesting – and worrying for football fans the world over if their findings are more productive than that of the NFL.

Texas A&M president Loftin: Making a comment like: “Texas is now SEC territory” (well done, Aggies president R.Bowen Loftin) will make you beloved to your other 13 members. Especially as they then venture into your state and continue to steal your best talent.

…And Horse lovers: Not remotely anything to do with football, but now equestrian is a sport starting 2012-3. Georgia, Auburn, South Carolina, and Texas A&M will field teams. The SEC Football Blog can reveal that Baylor, Brown, Cal State Fresno, College of Charleston, Cornell, Delaware State, Kansas State, New Mexico State, Oklahoma State, Sacred Heart, South Dakota State, SMU, TCU and UT-Martin all have Division-I programs. Baylor won this year’s National Championship. Now, I bet you didn’t know that. I can see the jokes start flying.


Les Miles: He didn’t get his way about playing Florida every year, which he wanted NOT to happen. The topic of his rage? Mississippi State’s permanent deal with Kentucky. Brought forth a lot of queries about the LSU side and Miles’ recruiting. We get the reason why Les Miles was freaking out – a loss to Florida could well derail LSU’s SEC and National Championship hopes and he didn’t want that to happen -but come on…

Steve Spurrier (paying players): The coaches’ unanimous vote wasn’t carried through by the ADs and Presidents, unsurprisingly. But hopefully, this will get through to the NCAA.

Nick Saban: His quote about ‘self-absorbed people’ (everyone thinks he was pointed at Big Ten head Jim Delany) got people asking the question: Should Nick Saban – a guy with a not-exactly unblemished record in that department –  be the one saying a comment like that? I can bet that that the PR guys at Alabama probably shivered when he said it, particularly at some of the comments spat back at him over Twitter.

The University of Tennessee: Despite having a consistent rivalry with Alabama, it’s not going to be much of one if Alabama continues to recruit and win the way it does and Tennessee continues to falter. We’ll bet that some Tennessee fans probably wanted to forgo tradition and get paired off with an easier team, say Ole Miss. Or Texas A&M.

And….James Franklin: For the record, this is what the Vanderbilt coach said:  “I’ve been saying for a long time, I will not hire an assistant until I’ve seen his wife. If she looks the part and she’s a D-I recruit, then you’ve got a chance to get hired. That’s part of the deal.” He followed this up with: “There’s a very strong correlation between having the confidence, going up and talking to a woman, and being quick on your feet and having some personality and confidence and being fun and articulate, that it is walking into a high school and recruiting a kid and selling him.” (Thanks, Baltimore Sun, who then called him a ‘used car salesman). Although Franklin tried to play this down as a joke, it didn’t endear himself to a lot of people – particularly those desperate for a story. He apologised over Twitter later on – “Skills is what I am looking 4.As a husband & father of 2 daughters I regret the way I conveyed my message!” but by then he’d written the headlines that the outraged brigade will feast on every time Vanderbilt doesn’t pick up one of those five-star recruits they always seem to get.

Who else do you think should get on the list? Comment below!!!

Spring Meetings: Schedule news, and the bottom line.

News just in from Friday’s SEC Spring Meetings voting: The 6-1-1 scheduling has – at last and despite Les Miles and Steve Spurrier’s call for something different – passed as expected.

The format will mean that the Auburn vs Georgia rivalry will continue, along with Alabama vs Tennessee and (unfortunately for Miles), LSU vs Florida. Arkansas vs Missouri will be a new rivalry, as will Vanderbilt vs Ole Miss, Mississippi State vs Kentucky, and Texas A&M vs South Carolina.

Florida AD Jeremy told reporters at the event that the vote was “not unanimous”, which sadly means that they’ll be arguing about the scheduling stuff next year, too.

THE BOTTOM LINE: This is a good thing. The SEC NEEDS those traditional rivalries more than anything.

Florida President reveals scheduling decision

Les Miles is not going to get what he wants out of the SEC scheduling gods, conference President (and Florida Chancellor) Dr Bernie Machen has revealed in a press conference.

Future SEC schedules would adopt a 6-1-1 schedule, that would see six divisional rivals, one rotating rival, and one permanent rival. The reason? Machen and his fellow Chancellors thought it was important to keep 100-year, cross-conference rivalries such as Alabama vs Tennessee and Georgia vs Auburn as well as the 41-year old rivalry of Florida and LSU.

“I’m Florida. We think that cross-division rivalries are really important and we particularly cherish the LSU rivalry. I think it’s been really great for both of our schools. We would be in a position to maintain that relationship,” Machen said, adding that most coaches and athletic directors were happy with the 6-1-1 format.

Les Miles has been heavily against the 6-1-1 schedule – mainly because he’s furious about Mississippi State’s more-than-fair rivalry set-up with Kentucky. He didn’t mention Arkansas’ draw with South Carolina, which is also certain to have annoyed Mssrs Smith and Spurrier. He also ignored Ole Miss’ match-up with on-the-rise Vanderbilt, and didn’t stand up for Tennessee, which gets to play Alabama year in, year out (they haven’t won The Third Saturday in October since 2006).

Georgia’s Mark Richt has been vocally pro-6-1-1: “For me, 6-1-1 makes the most sense. Some people think the rivalry games are really important. With 6-2, you lose Georgia-Auburn. My sentiment, to be real clear, is we should play Auburn.”

Strangely though, Florida’s coach Will Muschamp (although it has to be said Machen’s employee) is happy staying with LSU. He told the Orlando Sentinel: “I like the every year playing LSU. I think that’s good. I think that’s good for the league,” he said. “It’s two national programs with the recent success we’ve both had. As far as how they rotate the other Western Division opponent, that’s up to (commissioner) Mike Slive and our athletic directors. I’m just in favor of still playing eight as far as SEC games.”

Machen added that he expected the 6-1-1 to be finalized on Friday, when the voting takes place.

Frankly, we can’t wait for a solution.

BOTTOM LINE: It must be noted that the LSU-Florida games are generally one of the best of the SEC schedule in terms of atmosphere, national interest, and quality of game. USC-Arkansas year in, year out – the way both sides are recruiting at the moment – is going to be some fun too. Machen and the rest of his chancellors have done well on this one.


Florida President reveals SEC play-off plan

The SEC will be pushing a four-team play-off plan to determine future National Champions, Florida’s Chancellor told a press conference at this year’s SEC Spring Meetings.

Dr Bernie Machen of Florida – talking down the road from UF’s campus in Gainseville in Destin – said at a press conference: “We want a four-team play-off”.

He added: “I would be amazed if it wasn’t a four-team play-off with semifinals in the bowl system and a final championship game bid out separately.”

Machen added that the SEC would be pushing for the four best teams in college football to play each other – regardless of whether they’d won the conference championship or not. Last year that means even if Georgia HAD caught some passes and won the Championship game against LSU, they probably wouldn’t have made the SEC Championship Game. Going 0-2 early in the season hurt, folks.

He told the press conference that things were expected to be finalized by the end of June. Machen also serves on the BCS Oversight Committee, so he’d be an expert.

What’s also interesting is that the Committee at the Big XII are also pumping for a four-team play-off, meaning that the pressure on the NCAA essentially to go with College Football’s version of a ‘Final Four’ (please God, can this be the case?) is virtually unstoppable- regardless of what the Big Ten is going to say (We’re sure they’ll say: ‘Love the four-team play-off, but remember our Rose Bowl’).

THE BOTTOM LINE: The SEC is going to do what is in its interests, and going for the four-team play-off ignoring conference championships is clearly what is in its interests. Having said that, it does degrade the conference championships a little – and puts into question – what happens to the Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl in all of this?

And this won’t hurt the SEC and Big XII’s new bowl, either, will it. Or, as Machen told reporters: “It can’t hurt”. 

If  play-off format had existed this season, we would have plumped for LSU, Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma State. Why OSU and not Arkansas? OSU may have lost to Iowa State, but it still beat Oklahoma and everyone else. 

Ohio State cancels Georgia football series

The biggest scheduling news to come out of the Spring Meetings might not be from Mike Slive but from the Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity, who confirmed that the 2020-1 series between Ohio State and Georgia has been cancelled.

Scheduling website FBSchedules.com informed SEC Football Blog via Twitter that it had broken the story after a record request from UGA, and that beat reporters had then jumped on the news.

Whoever broke the story – the big word we have about this is: Bummer. The home-and-home could have been an all-time great one.

According to letters, Ohio State cancelled the Memorandum of Understanding, not Georgia. And it’s not going to cost either of the programs money, which is nice. I bet the Buckeyes and Bulldogs fans can’t wait to see their team play Western Kentucky and Idaho as replacements.

FB Schedules.com says that it’s possible that the cancellation was due to the Big Ten and Pac-12 signing a long-term scheduling agreement with each other, starting 2017. Or we’d go with that Gene Smith didn’t want to screw up his school’s National Championship chances by playing anyone good (it’s not how Urban Meyer has won titles with Florida over the years (Can someone name me a good non-conference opponent for the Gators in the past five years, please?)

What’s hilarious is the Twitter conversations slaughtering UGA for cancelling the deal…

@ParrishWalton: So I see UGA’s schedule is now just like UF’s, McGarrity’s last stop. Who wants to see Oregon or OSU on the road anyway.”

Let’s hope that McGarity and Smith are as good as their words and get this game done sometime in the future – these two sides only met once.




Contributor article: SEC coaches vote in a player stipend, now should the NCAA?

Alex Ferguson, writer of the college football blog “The View From North America” wrote a lovely piece about the NCAA and whether it should pay players.

He’ll be contributing SEC-related articles to the SEC Football Blog from time to time because as he says: “My blog needs some airing elsewhere”.

We’ll let you know if the arrangement doesn’t work out.

Anyway, here’s his first article….(taken from the View From North America’s site) – 

While all the chat at the SEC’s Spring Meetings in Destin, Fl. may have been about scheduling, play-offs, and the amazing haircuts of Mssrs. Miles and Saban, the biggest news was one that was rather buried.

We heard that every SEC coach had voted in a $300-per-game stipend for players. “We think they need more and deserve more”, said South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier told the Athens Banner-Herald.

Say that again? Every SEC coach voted in a $300-per-game stipend. They want the players to be paid to play.

Now, paying the players didn’t make it past the ADs or university presidents, but it was unlikely to. Why? Because paying the players is a NCAA deal, not a conference deal.

But if there’s any chink in the pay-to-play armour, it was going to be done at coach level, and despite many screaming about the free education, it’s important these kids get paid.

For the record, we at the VFA are happy with Spurrier’s suggestion of $300-per-player, per game. And if comes out of the coach’s pocket (like Spurrier suggests), then so be it.

Here’s why:

1) Many college football players come from poor backgrounds (particularly in the SEC). Football will mean everything to them, because otherwise, they go back to nothingness.

2) Giving players a small stipend helps to teach them a little about what will happen to them financially in the future when they arrive in the NFL (Or more’s the case, if they make it to the NFL). Money becomes less of a shock to them.

3) Universities and clothing companies make a gazillions from merchandising, kit deals, and season ticket sales from the players, who are suddenly scolded by every member of the media if they say: “Is this right?”

Legendary Oregon running back LaMichael James tweeted about the University of Oregon auctioning off one of his jerseys“I love the university but the amount of money they made off me I could buy several eductions lol am I a donor now?” 

And school policy at the university of Oregon – this article noted – made players buy their own jerseys back. Oh, so that’s OK then.

AJ Green could probably have a similar complaint about the University of Georgia and the amount of money the University – and Nike – made off the No.8 shirt when he was there.

4) The NCAA, the BCS, and the associated conferences as organisations make a mind-boggling amount of capital from college football and college basketball. The NCAA’s deal with CBS/TNT for March Madness is worth $10.8bn. I’ll say that again. $10.8bn. The deals for the Big Ten, Pac 12, and SEC Networks are almost as equally extraordinary.) But in the land of zeroes, the players also know about that, because they get paid zero, too.

Some members of the media don’t like the idea of players getting paid to pay. They think of the junior doctor who’s going to save lives for a living  has to pay their own way through school. The junior doctor, when he’s qualified, will earn more money for a longer time than the football player – and will probably have a longer life.

There are some who think that a pay-for-play would be disastrous, as it would cause college players of the world to unite and could possibly lead to a strike. Possibly. But why not give it a try? Players deserve to be paid. They are bringing so much cash into the game, and deserve something out of it.

The final question is: Will the NCAA vote it through?

The final answer is: If the NCAA know what’s right, they will.

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